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Study Notes

Political Violence in Germany between 1919-1923

AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Last updated 19 Jan 2019

Throughout the period 1919-1923 there was significant political unrest in Weimar society, be that in the form of assassination, judicial bias and the creation of private armies all caused political unrest in the Republic.

To counter the unrest that existed, political parties created private armies which would help defend their meetings and protect their leaders and members should they need help. These private armies were made up of former soldiers. These groups often caused as much violence as they prevented. This is because those groups who defended would also cause damage to those people who they saw as opponents. It would was not uncommon for right wing paramilitary men to beat up communists and vice versa.

In addition to this street violence, there was also a significant number of political assassinations of high profile Weimar politicians. Walther Rathenau as foreign minister was assassinated in 1922, as well as members of the Council of People’s Representatives.

In total during the period there was 376 assassinations and murders of mainly moderate or centrist politicians. When it came to trying those guilty of carrying out the murders, left wing assassins were almost always convicted, whilst those on the right tended to get away with it. This judicial bias existed in the courts as many of the judge were right wing themselves.


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